"Ohhhh Look.... a button! Lets push it and see what happens!"
That is roughly the thought going through most little boys minds when they see something mechanical. Carteach0 is no better than most little boys. When I see something mechanical I want to take it apart and play with it. The corollary to that.... when I hear something has a problem, I want to figure it out and fix it.
Lately the 'button' in question has been the release lever of the Blackhawk SERPA level II retention holster. One of these rigs (for a 1911) came along with some swag from Blackhawk, and testing it as a carry rig is occupying the occasional range trip.
Researching the SERPA holster, several complaints surface on the intertubes. (1) the holster will not release the pistol from it's grasp if debris gets into the retention lever mechanism, and (2) some people have managed to shoot themselves in the leg trying to draw their weapon.
Complaint #1 will be tested in the near future, and will be a separate post here on Carteach0. To paraphrase almost every James Bond movie ever made... "Vee haf plans for you Mr. Serpa!"
Complaint #2? That one is pretty serious, and worth looking into. The gist of the story is this... a few people going through range training managed to shoot themselves while drawing their weapon from a SERPA holster, and the position of the shooters finger in working the retention release has drawn the fire of blame. In short, the shooter must push the release to draw, and some folks say the design has them pushing the weapons trigger with the same motion.
My own experience with the SERPA holster caused me to sit back and look on that with a bit of doubt, and I'll explain why. The holster requires the shooter to depress a retention lever to draw the pistol, that is true. It is also true the holster design places that lever on a line with the frame of the pistol, and not in line with the trigger.
In other words, a shooter drawing from the SERPA holster is required to press his finger outstretched along the frame of the pistol as it's drawn, pretty much as every instructor tells shooters to do no matter what holster they use.
Perhaps this series on photos will make the concept a little clearer......
In pictures, there we have it. The trigger finger extends along the frame and depresses the release to allow the weapon to be drawn. If the finger is not in line with the pistols frame, no draw will happen.
At the range, an effort was made to try different ways of pressing in the retention lever, including bending the finger and using the fingertip with varying levels of pressure. No matter what was tried, if the pistol was drawn then the trigger finger indexed on the frame.
Now... what happens after the pistol is drawn.... that is entirely up to the shooter. There will never be a safety mechanism that makes up for a shooter actively pressing the trigger (intentionally or not).
My own finding, from my own limited non-scientific inexpert testing.... the SERPA design does not encourage people to shoot themselves in the leg. If anything, it demands a safe draw with the trigger finger indexed on the frame and out of the trigger guard.
I'm certainly not saying no one managed to shoot themselves while training with this holster.... but I do have to wonder if it was the holster to blame. If it is, I can't figure out how.
Back to SERPA complaint #1, that it sometimes will not release the weapon.....
How to investigate that claim? How about.... I load the holster and bury it in a tub full of wet sand, rocks, muck, and debris.... and dig it back out to see if it fails? How about I roll around in the dirt while I wear the holster on my belt, and then see if it still works?
Yup... sounds like a plan, except the part where I also bury my beloved Combat Commander in the muck along with the holster! Whats called for is a dummy gun (plastic demo/training gun) that is shaped exactly like a 1911. So, I ponied up my credit card and ordered one.... from Blackhawk themselves. I don't want to hear one word about 'You used the wrong gun, stupid'. It will be a Blackhawk 1911 training gun, in a Blackhawk 1911 SERPA holster.
I can just imagine, down in Norfolk (the sinister Blackhawk headquarters), some guy with a tie is looking at another guy with a tie, and saying "You sold Carteach0 a WHAT?!?! Are you INSANE !?!?".
I have to admit... when I opened the box from UPS today with the training gun in it, I did have a rather significant 'mad scientist' moment and the clear touch of "MUHAHahahaha" was heard in the kitchen.
This weekend I will devote time to the experiment, and under the watchful eye of the video camera we shall see if the SERPA holster survives.
Disclaimer: Blackhawk gave me this holster to play with, which I suspect they will deeply regret in the future.